Disney Theme Park Review- Magic Kingdom

Lets just say that going to a theme park is not on the top of my travel to do list. That said I had a blast at both the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Having my kids with me defiantly made it extra special. This review will give you an overview of each park and some tips!

 Magic Kingdom- July 6th 2014

IMG_5131This park has something for everyone. From the awesome Space Mountain Roller coaster to Pirates of the Caribbean,  every ride is special. You don’t just line up and wait to go on the ride, even the line ups are enjoyable (yes it is true) but to be honest the longest we ever stood in line was about 30 minutes!. On arrival at the park we went straight to guest services for fast passes.

What is a fast pass? Well it is kind of like a reservation that you can make for up to three rides at the park. The fast pass lets you skip the long lines, it would be crazy NOT to take advantage of the fast pass. Once you have used up your three fast passes that day you can add more.

There is a very user-friendly app that you use to make your fast passes and other Disney perks manageable called “My Disney Experience” you load it to your phone, scan your ticket and volia.. you can start planing your day. You can use the app for everything from Fast Passes to Meal reservations.  If you are with family and friends you just connect your tickets and you can plan your fast passes at home before you even arrive at the park.

We had a group of about 16 people the day we went to the Magic Kingdom and connecting all the tickets through our app seemed a little tricky so we went to guest services, they fixed us all up. Planned our fast passes and off we went. The rides we got our fast passes for were:

Space Mountain Roller coaster , Pirates of the Caribbean and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

splash

As soon as we used them up we go another one for Splash Mountain. Here is a pic of me on splash mountain…  I am on the right, 2nd row,  in the red dress 🙂 Warning, this ride is scary lol.

Advice for the best day at Magic Kingdom

1) Download the My Disney Experience App before you leave home. Once you have your tickets play with it and get you and your family and friends connected. If you plan ahead you can  get the most out of fast passes and the park.

 

2) Use your fast passes wisely. Don’t waste them on shows,  these lineups are never bad. Use the fast passes for the big rides with big waits.  The four mentioned above probably give you the best advantage. If you or your kids want to meet a character, like the Disney Princess, the fast pass is also good for this.

3) The indoor restaurants will give you free ice water if you ask for it!

4) You will get wet on Splash Mountain!

turkey5) You will see lots of people walking around eating turkey legs. They look disgusting, cost a fortune but man are they delicious! You have to try it. They are sold in Frontier-land. Its worth the effort to find them. Trust me on this! (picture left)

6) There is a new ride this year called the “Seven Dwarfs Mine Train” The lines were ridiculously long when we were there. I would strongly suggest that if you want to try the new ride, (which does look awesome)  try get a fast pass for it (we couldn’t when we were there) or go straight for the ride as soon as the park opens in the morning. When we were there is was an 1 hr 45 min wait!

7) Enjoy the crowd, the noise, the heat. And if you start letting it get to you just hum a few bars of “Frozen’s”, “Let it Go” and you will be fine 🙂

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Next Review…Hollywood Studios

 

 

 

 

Walt Disney World Swan Resort

This review is based on my experiences at the hotel, for facts and figures I always suggest visiting the hotels website: http://www.swandolphin.com/

The Grounds and Location

Located right between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood studios, the location is excellent. It is a two-minute walk over a little bridge to Disney’s Boardwalk and you can see the nightly fireworks from both parks at the resort.  Because the resort is 34 years old, the gardens are lovely, there are soaring palm trees and at sunset, it is just a magical place to be. The pools are fantastic too, there is a grotto pool with a waterside and daily activities and there is also a calmer quiet pool, the pools were never too full, there was always, places to sit. There were towels available and very attentive staff. Poolside bar service is prompt and affordable which of course makes me happy.

Swan at nightThe Rooms

I had a fantastic room on the 6th floor overlooking Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the “quiet” pool,  the view at night was simply spectacular and we loved being able to watch the fireworks from our balcony.  I strongly suggest ensuring that you stay in a room with a balcony. Our stay would have been totally different if we were cooped up in a room without access to the outdoors. The room itself was pretty small, 340 sq feet but does have a small fridge, which I loaded up with food and drinks from near-by Wal-Mart, when the fridge gets low, you can visit the General Store at the Boardwalk for supplies. The beds are excellent, it is a hotel managed by Westin and their signature “heavenly beds” never disappoint. The room was a little tired and the bathroom is defiantly cramped, I would say that I would have been pretty disappointed had I not had a balcony, as the awesome view and nightly fireworks show made up for any shortcomings. I do believe the hotel is doing some room renovations soon. It was super quiet in the room at night, which for me is really important.

The Restaurants

Being a foodie I have to admit that this hotel really won me over with their food! Most of you know that I love Sushi more than just about anything, so imagine my delight when I discovered that the hotel had their very own highly rated Sushi restaurant, “Kimonos.” I ate here two out of seven nights. It was incredibly good, the sushi was fresh and beautifully prepared,  the service was excellentsushi and they had an awesome Karaoke party every night which I thoroughly enjoyed. I would probably stay at this resort again, solely based on this great sushi restaurant. Great job, Kimonos you were amazing.

Cabana Grill: We arrived on the 4th of July Weekend, which is one of the busiest times at Disney, our room wasn’t quite ready so we went to the Cabana Grill for a late lunch. The food was amazing and the service very good.  Loved the fish tacos and lets just say the burger was unreal!

Il Mulino: I picked up some take out from here one night, it was quick and excellent. Really good. Our friends had dinner here the one night and said the side spinach was fantastic. We didn’t have time to stay for full dinner service and wanted a snack of calamari to eat so we got it as take out, it took maybe 10 minutes and then ate it as we watched the fireworks on our balcony.

Java Bar: This is where I got my coffee every morning, it was good coffee, but pretty pricey.

The overall service at the hotel

I had a couple of service issues that I brought to the hotels attention and were quickly remedied. Juan in guest relations did a very nice job, dealing with some of my issues.  Overall I would say that the Swan Resort did a great job ensuring my needs were met. I think that I would definitely stay here again, the close proximity to the parks, reasonable rate, great view from my room and of course, the Sushi made it all magical.

Tips and suggestions

1) On your first day, visit the near by Publix grocery store to stock up on food and beverages for your room. We went to Wal-Mart and it was a bit of a horror show with literally hundreds of people jamming the isles. Publix is a far more sensible place to shop, the prices are almost the same, you just don’t have as much selection. We pretty much ate breakfast everyday in room to save time and money.

2) Bring a small kettle. I bought one at Wal-Mart for $10 to make instant oatmeal and  ramen noodles for the kids as snacks.

3) Bring a wine opener! (Enough said!)

4) Get the room with the balcony, I looked at balcony rooms overlooking the other side of the hotel (looking at Epcot) and they were just as nice as mine.

5) Visit the gym. Even if you don’t want to use the work out equipment, the gym stocks great “walking trail” maps that show everything from 1.6km – 4.8 kms trails through the resort.  I took this photo of it on my phone for quick reference.  Next review….. The Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios Theme parks.Walking trails map

 

 

 

Walt Disney World 2014

mouse earsHi Everyone, I have been travelling like crazy this month and have finally recovered from my most recent trip to Orlando and am ready to Blog! I will be reviewing; Two Walt Disney World Theme Parks, The Walt Disney World Swan Resort,  Southwest Airlines and Transportation in Orlando I should have all the reviews posted by the end of the week.  But lets start with my thoughts on getting around Orlando.

Transportation in Orlando

On arrival at MCO, Orlando’s airport, it is super easy to find transport to your hotel. Many people have asked me if its better to rent a car, take a taxi, or book a shuttle to get from the airport.  I took a taxi. It makes no sense financially for a family to take a shuttle.  It is $36.00 round trip per adult for a shuttle with Mears Transportation. A one way taxi fare is $67.00.  We have rented cars on previous trips but found it was more of a hassle than just taking taxis for the odd times you need to go off property. If you are staying on the Walt Disney World Resort Property, everything is connected by a complementary network of buses, water taxis, trams etc. It is efficient, easy to use and very relaxing. The Swan Resort charges $16.00 plus tax per day to park, this adds up quickly. During our week we left the Disney Property twice. Each time using a taxi. A trip to Wal-Mart for supplies, cost $18 each way. A trip to the Outlet mall for fabulous shopping was $20 each way. The rest of the time we used the complementary  transportation to get to all the Disney attractions.

If your accommodation in Orlando is not on Disney property or you would like to visit Universal Studios and do a lot of shopping a car rental makes more sense. Remember however,  you will have to pay $17.00 per day to park you car at the Disney Parks. But, if you are going primarily to be at Disney, (like we were!) I would suggest staying at a hotel on the Disney Property. It makes everything so much more convenient, to give you an example, we spent one day at Disney’s Hollywood studios, took the quick 8 minute water taxi back to our hotel, had a shower and dinner and then returned for the evening fireworks, simple, fast and easy to do. Here is a picture of us returning to our resort on the water taxi.water taxi

 

Next Post….Review of The Walt Disney World Swan